On top of Hippo Ridge Disc Golf Course. Opening overlooks large trees and gravel path down the middle.
[ Ayden Crowley | WOUB ]

A former Ohio University professor works disc golf into his retirement with Hippo Ridge course

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — A former Ohio University professor turned his front yard into a disc golf haven for players in southeastern Ohio. 

Kendree Sampson was ahead of the rapid rise of disc golf that now sees over five courses built a day, according to UDisc, a disc golf website that tracks industry trends. Sampson bought the property that would later become Hippo Ridge 30 years ago. 

He crafted Hippo Ridge into a course capable of hosting multiple tournaments a year, including “Stomped by the Hippo” on June 25.

Photo of Kendree Sampson, owner of Hippo Ridge. He is sitting in the woods on a platform overlooking the tournament.
Kendree Sampson looks over the Hippo Ridge disc golf course [Ayden Crowley | WOUB]
“I was looking for stuff to do … and I came up with this idea: We could buy some property in the country and I would put a disc golf course in there,” Sampson said. 

Sampson said it took a lot of elbow grease to shape the 88 acres of rolling hills to his vision before anyone was able to go down the fairways. 

“My usual question is, how long does it take to cut the grass,” he said. “The answer to that question is all summer. You start in the spring and you don’t stop. … I spend about 10 hours a week on a mower.”

All the hard work is not going unnoticed. Hippo Ridge is one of the top rated courses in Ohio, according to UDisc. The course scores a 4.7 out of five on the UDisc app as rated by the players. 

Nick Robison is one of those players who travels to the course for multiple tournaments a year.

“It blew me away,” he said. “It’s a beautiful property …. It’s like 80 some acres out here and it felt kinda like a paradise. … It’s very challenging, very tough, it makes you be on your game. … I love it though.”

Wooded hippo signs lined up with the names of previous tournament winners painted on them.
Signs with previous tournament winners [Ayden Crowely | WOUB]
Hippo Ridge opened to the public in 2008 and hosted its first tournament in 2012. Sampson said the decision to go public opened up the opportunity to make new friends. 

“The people I’ve met are some great highlights, plus the one’s here today,” he said. “Some of them are people I’ve known for a long time and some I’m just getting to know. There’s a guy on the course I just met two days ago.”

And Sampson said he is not done. He is in the process of expanding the course and adding a new layout that he described as a “championship level course.”